Isaac Chotiner

Those of us who dutifully trudge through Richard Cohen's Washington Post column every Tuesday do so for one reason above all others: Once in a great many days, Cohen's work surpasses its usual astonishing incoherence and registers instead as humorously incoherent. And, blessed that some of us are, today is such a day. Cohen begins by asking: "Just tell me one thing Barack Obama has done that you admire," I asked a prominent Democrat. He paused and then said that he admired Obama's speech to the Democratic convention in 2004. I agreed.

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  Or, rather, Batman is President Bush.  From Andrew Klavan in tomorrow's Wall Street Journal (I am not making this up): A cry for help goes out from a city beleaguered by violence and fear: A beam of light flashed into the night sky, the dark symbol of a bat projected onto the surface of the racing clouds . . . Oh, wait a minute. That's not a bat, actually. In fact, when you trace the outline with your finger, it looks kind of like . . .

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Bill O'Reilly:  In hindsight, Obama was correct about entering Iraq and wrong about the surge. So he's batting .500 on the issue. John McCain was correct that the war was fought ineptly for years and correct about the surge. So he's batting 750. The one strikeout for McCain and for most of us was going into Iraq in the first place. (Thanks to reader F.T.) --Isaac Chotiner 

The numbers are in, at least for Friday: The new Batman flick grossed an astonishing $66 million yesterday. According to biz expert Nikki Finke, the film is likely to gross over $150 million by the end of the weekend. 'Iron Man' and 'Indiana Jones 4' had been the summer's two biggest hits, but now it appears likely--if not certain--that 'The Dark Knight' will be the biggest film of the year.

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Seinfeld fans will fondly recall George's constant refrain after he decides--on a whim--to propose marriage to a woman he does not much like, let alone love. "We had a pact," he yells at his best friend, Jerry, who promised George to also undergo the "maturation process" and get hitched.  This is a long-winded way of saying that when I read Daniel Bergner's New York Times Magazine feature on Leah Daughtry, I felt compelled to scream "We had a pact!" more than once. Daughtry is a preacher and political operative currently working as chief of staff to DNC head Howard Dean.

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Noam has some smart insights that touch on the subjects raised by David Brooks in his New York Times column today. But unlike Noam, I thought the Brooks column itself was confused. Brooks starts out by arguing that we are entering an era of "epic legislation" in which the government will take an acitivist role on issues like energy, human capital, and financial market regulation. The problem is that Brooks--in high, McCain-swooning gear-- draws a strange lesson from history. Yet, historically, periods of great governmental change have often been periods of conservative rule.

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According to this excellent piece in The New York Times today, Western magazines are finding a receptive audience in India.  This particular tidbit seemed worth sharing: Some, like Maxim, seem to pride themselves on pushing the envelope of good taste even further than they do in their home markets. The magazine’s July issue includes the feature “48 Ways to Get a Gori” (gori is Hindi for fair-skinned woman, and is used in this context to mean a foreign white one).

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  Noam and I both blogged earlier about Ryan Lizza's terrific New Yorker piece on Barack Obama's Chicago days, but now it seems like Ryan's story (and every other article with actual reporting) is going to have to compete for headlines with the brouhaha that has arisen over the magazine's new cover. Eve has the story here, and The Page and The Politico are both making a big deal about it.

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Ryan Lizza's extremely detailed, 15000 word piece (in next week's New Yorker) on Barack Obama's Chicago life does a fantastic job of delineating the different forces in Windy City politics over the past twenty years. What was most interesting, however, was the way in which the piece explains Obama's simultaneous ability to criticize "the system" and operate within it.

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That is the question asked--and answered--by the London Times, which has produced a Top 20 for readers to debate. And the list is pretty good!  20-16: Seven--Blair Witch--Memento--Planet of the Apes (original)--Shawshank Redemption 15-11: Gone With the Wind--Dr. Strangelove--Les Diaboliques--Wizard of Oz--Thelma & Louise 10-6: Sixth Sense--Usual Suspects--Italian Job (original)--Some Like it Hot--Breakfast at Tiffany's 5.Chinatown 4. E.T. 3. Casablanca 2. Butch Cassidy 1.

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